Advice on autumn tasks and weathering winter
To some novice gardeners, it may come as news that autumn—with its garden centre sales, moderate temperatures and plentiful rainfall—is a great time to garden.
Before you start readying your patch for winter (see “Seasonal dos and don'ts"), plant perennials in early fall so they'll have time to establish their root systems (bearded and Siberian irises, peonies and lilies do especially well when planted in autumn). However, avoid planting or dividing ornamental grasses; many are warm-season growers that won't establish if planted in fall. Others that also prefer to be planted in the spring include yews, magnolias, katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), mountain ash (Sorbus), dogwood (Cornus), beech (Fagus), tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera), Japanese and red maples (Acer palmatum, A. rubrum), and white oaks (Quercus alba).
Another fall ritual is planting bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops (Galanthus), for spring colour. Tuck them into the ground before hard frosts come and choose big bulbs for larger flowers. Plant in well-drained soil at least six weeks before soil freezes; start with smaller ones (such as snowdrops and crocuses), as they don't keep as well, followed by larger species such as daffodils and tulips.
Position bulbs pointed end up, three times deeper than their height (for example, plant a 6.5-centimetre daffodil bulb 20 centimetres deep). Those that don't have an obvious pointed end (or ones you're uncertain about) can be planted sideways; they will right themselves as they grow.
Seasonal Dos & Don'ts
DO cut back finished annuals, diseased plants or any that may take over if allowed to self-seed freely.
DO cut back peony, iris and hosta foliage, which can harbour pests and diseases.
DON'T cut back perennials too early. Leave some standing through winter, as seed heads and coloured foliage can be beautiful, while seeds feed migrating birds.
DO rake and remove leaves from the lawn every week; grass needs sunlight in fall for strong growth in spring.
DON'T leave flower beds bare-mulch with fallen leaves. If possible, shred leaves first using a lawn mower.
DO continue to water if the weather is dry; perennials and woody types-especially newly planted ones and evergreens, including broadleaf types such as euonymus-need moisture to survive winter.
DO use winter mulch to help soil maintain a more even temperature. This helps plants survive where alternating periods of freezing and thawing don't provide consistent snow cover. Lay cut up boughs from Christmas trees on beds to trap snow that might otherwise blow away.
Content courtesy of http://www.canadiangardening.com
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